“How Chicago said yes to pot” @ Chicago Reader

Posted on July 5, 2012

Mick Dumke — July 3, 2012: “Rahm Emanuel’s interest in marijuana seemed to come out of nowhere. In truth, it was months in the making.

He’d been silent on the subject since tabling a proposal last fall that would ticket some possessors rather than haul them off to jail. Then, on June 15, he abruptly announced his support for a slightly tougher version of the plan. The announcement came from a safe distance—via press release, while he was in Europe for his daughter’s bat mitzvah. And the issue was reframed to make the change more politically palatable: the proposal, Emanuel stated, “allows us to observe the law, while reducing the processing time for minor possession of marijuana—ultimately freeing up police officers for the street.”

Within hours the story was international news, and within two weeks the new law was on the books. What remains to be seen is whether it will actually change anything.

The sudden passage of the law is the latest example of the absurdity surrounding marijuana policies and politics—an ongoing saga in which elected officials vow to crack down on a behavior that millions of Americans have engaged in, then giggle at their own jokes about getting stoned and getting the munchies. Not all of it is funny. As we reported last year, marijuana is believed to be used at similar rates across racial groups, yet African-Americans account for 78 percent of those arrested, 89 percent of those convicted, and 92 percent of those jailed for low-level possession in Chicago………………………..”

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